Commission Backs Discounts For Scottish Islands Flights

15 September 2005
Scottish National Party MEP Alyn Smith has revealed today that the Scottish Executive could fund reduced fares for residents of Scotland's remotest islands.

The European Commission has told Mr Smith in a parliamentary answer that the Executive would be allowed to offer concessionary rates to islanders, just as the French government has for Corsican residents since 1995.

The Commission has also announced new rules for funding regional airports and start-up flights which would allow routes such as Aberdeen to Stornoway to take off. Commenting on the Commission's statement Mr Smith said

"The French government have been helping Corsican residents for 10 years with cut price fares - what have Scotland been doing?

"According to the Commission there have been no discussions with the UK or Scottish Executive about reducing fares. Once again the Executive is failing to use all the European means at its disposal."

"In France anyone who lives on the island of Corsica, and anyone over 65 or under 25 travelling to the island gets up to €56 off the cost of their flight. It's a disgrace that residents of Shetland, Barra and Islay for example have been paying full fares all this time when there was a way to subsidise them."

"The Executive has recently started talking about putting public service obligations on flights, lets see that, but lets also see some concessions for people that live there and a cut in the cost of tickets.

"I'll be passing all this information on to Tavish Scott, the Minister responsible - I hope he puts it too good use. As an island resident himself he should know just how important it is."